Invite Could Kill Year-in-Making Syria Peace Talks

Opposition threatens to pull out
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 20, 2014 4:29 AM CST
UN Invites Iran to Syria Peace Talks
Syrian army soldiers standing on their military trucks shout slogans in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.   (AP Photo/Bassem Tellawi, File)

This week's Syria peace talks in Switzerland have been in the works for more than a year, but they're in danger of falling apart before they begin. United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon has invited Iran to join the talks, sparking protests from the US and causing Syria's main opposition group to announce that it will pull out of the talks if the country, the Assad regime's key regional ally, is allowed to take part, the BBC reports. The talks are aimed at establishing a transitional body to govern the war-torn country.

Ban said he had been "speaking at length in recent days" with Iran's foreign minister, who had "pledged that Iran would play a positive and constructive role" in the preliminary talks, the AP reports. But the US protests that Iran has not publicly accepted the terms for the Geneva talks, and John Kerry blasted Iran for its role in the conflict just last week, reports the New York Times. "Iran is currently a major actor with respect to adverse consequences in Syria," he said. "No other nation has its people on the ground fighting in the way that they are.” (More Syria stories.)

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